How Solve is changing the social impact space with enterprise software that connects the city:
1. Don’t reach for your vision too early, focus on your mission.
This means that social impact businesses need to understand that solutions for social missions are very complex. Be careful and not just go straight for your vision but create bite-sized steps. Determine the steps and stages needed to fulfill your vision, then set out to complete these short-term goals.
2. Know your market.
Social enterprise spaces are getting crowded. I mean who doesn’t want to start a nonprofit or business that can help people and be sustainable? While this is a good thing for everyone, it may mean more work for you. You should do research on the targeted audience you want to serve and their needs–– look for where there may be a lack in certain services in the market.
3. Market sizes are large, allowing for hundreds and thousands of winners.
Check out The Third Wave by Steve Case to get an understanding of the 5 key markets. Steve Case, Founder of AOL, explains how emerging technology companies have been and will continue to change the way we interact with customers, competitors, and governments. The large industries that can still benefit from more innovation are financial institutions, healthcare, government, social impact, and energy.
4. Competitors are often partners.
Since market sizes are so large and complex to understand, you need to make alliances to work together. Understand that you can’t tackle social problems alone. You need to collaborate to get to the root cause.
5. Build your business from the beginning with likeminded people.
Whether it is your co-founder or first employee, make sure that everyone agrees on the same mission and focus of your business.
6. Make money as quickly as possible.
This sounds obvious but it gets easy to get wrapped up in meetings trying to build relationships. Don’t be afraid to ask for money! My mentor, Thomas Chiang, explained that your vision is one thing, but your business goes where the money comes from. You need to make sure you stay for your social mission, but in order to stay, you need funding.
7. Enemies are okay.
You are doing the right things in social impact if you are starting to make enemies. That means you are disrupting a problem that needs to be solved. Of course, don’t be sassy or confrontational with the enemy–– kill them with kindness, as Dominique Wilson of Community Relations Associate of Solve says.